Last week’s ninth annual Cable Hall of Fame Celebration at The Cable Center in Denver featured the induction of seven new members: Decker Anstrom, Ralph M. Baruch, Carolyn S. Chambers, Judy McGrath, James O. Robbins, Brian L. Roberts, and Robert M. Zitter. Here’s a rundown of this year’s honorees: Anstrom Decker Anstrom is president and COO of Landmark Communications and also chairman of the Weather Channel. In the ’90s, he was president and CEO of the National Cable Television Association, leading the industry’s efforts on the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Prior to joining the NCTA, he was a Washington lobbyist, and getting into cable might seem an odd career change. “I’m proud to be a cable guy,” he said. “Early in my career, I followed … a Yogi Bera philosophy: ‘If you come to a fork in the road, take it.’” Baruch Ralph Baruch has also taken many roads, from fleeing the Nazis in France to helping found Viacom International. He served the company in various capacities from 1971 well into the ’80s. He got his start in radio and moved into television in 1950. As an NCTA committee member, he was instrumental in the passage of the Cable Act of 1984, which deregulated the industry. In testimony before Congress at that time, he pointed out what was obvious everywhere except on Capitol Hill: “Cable is not a utility.” He also said 20 years ago that “The enemy is not the broadcasters. It’s the telephone companies.” Time has proven him right, and he hasn’t changed his tune. At the ceremony, he said, “We must insist on a level playing field.” Chambers Carolyn Chambers played on a tilted field for years. Women were rare in cable in the early days, and she said some executives used to ask, “What’s she doing here?” Today she’s chairman and CEO of Chambers Communications, but in 1959, she was granted a license for KEZI-TV in Eugene, OR—the seedling that grew into Liberty Communications. Over the years, she’s bought, sold and grown systems, as well as directing movies and producing plays. Of her busy professional life, she said, “What a rollercoaster ride this industry has been.” She also runs her late husband’s multi-million-dollar construction business, a couple of vineyards (two of her Panther Creek wines were served at the ceremony—the pinot noir was quite nice), and a real estate holding company. Chambers was a charter member of the national chapter of Women in Cable and is a past president of the organization. On being a woman in cable, especially in the early days, she said, “The road to full acceptance was very long.” McGrath Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, has also taken that road, albeit more recently. She joined MTV’s predecessor company in 1981 as a copywriter and moved up steadily from there. “It has been a long, strange, wonderful trip so far,” she said. “I was young, and I wanted to be where the action was.” Robbins Jim Robbins served as Cox Communications’ president for 20 years, during which it quadrupled in size and won the J.D. Power Award five times for customer satisfaction in cable and telephone services. He served twice as chairman of the NCTA and got his start at WBZ-TV News in Boston. He said there was a procedure for everything in broadcast; if you needed to use the bathroom, you’d go to the appropriate page in the manual to find out where it was. Cable, he said, didn’t have any such procedures manual. “In cable … we were writing the book every day.” Of his induction into the Hall, he said, “None of this would have been possible without the great execution on the part of the great Cox employees.” Roberts Brian Roberts probably needs no introduction, but for those who’ve been living under rocks, he’s the chairman and CEO of Comcast and is serving his second consecutive term as chairman of the NCTA’s board. His father, Ralph Roberts, is Comcast’s founder. Being the boss’s son wasn’t always easy, he said, and he had to learn the business from the ground up, learning to climb poles and run systems. That training paid off. “My dad used to be in the men’s belt business, and one day he decided to sell the business,” Roberts said. “And all I can say is, ‘Thank God.’” Roberts also lauded his brother Rob for making—and keeping—him aware of and interested in technology, particularly the possibilities of the Internet. Zitter Bob Zitter is HBO’s CTO and executive VP of Technology Operations. Master of Ceremonies Paul Maxwell described him as this year’s “most technology savvy inductee.” Zitter said his three priorities are his family, to give back to the community, and to have passion for his work. – Ron Hendrickson

The Daily


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